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the guide to historical resources • Issue 7: The Holocaust •

The Holocaust

Book cover for Holocaust: A History


Holocaust: a History
Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt
ISBN: 0719554861 (September 2003)

This study vividly shows us the early days of Nazism and the German leaders' plans for resettlement of the Jews in Madagascar or the rural marshes of Poland. It illustrates how new measures and abuses, each harsher than the last, were devised and implemented – even after it was clear that Germany had lost the war – until liberation was finally reached in 1945. Though this book captures the horror, it never allows the personal stories to be subsumed in numbing detail. We meet perpetrators and collaborators, victims, bystanders and witnesses, rescuers and resisters. What emerges is a multi-faceted treatment of moral dilemmas as well as facts, one which negotiates the chasm between two histories, that of the people who carried out these terrible deeds and that of the victims and their families. It helps us to understand how it was possible for between five and six million human beings, in the heart of a civilization that thought itself the zenith of human history, to find themselves singled out, disenfranchised, marked, imprisoned and killed.